Justice Markandey Katju-
The Justice Sachar Committee Report stated that most Indian Muslims are backward and poor, and probably the same is the condition of most Pakistanis and Bangladeshi Muslims. In my opinion, it is the maulanas/muftis who are mainly responsible for this sad plight of Muslims.
In Islam, religion ( ibadat ) is a matter between an individual and Allah. But maulanas became intermediaries between the two, which is totally unIslamic. There were no maulanas at the time of the Prophet or his Companions. They came into existence much later due to certain vested interests.
Today the truth is that it is most of these Muslim clerics are reactionaries who have put feudal shackles and fetters on the mindsets of most Muslims and have kept them backward.
I saw the videos on YouTube showing how Rafia Naz, a 21-year-old Muslim girl of Ranchi, Jharkhand, who teaches yoga, has been threatened and terrorized by some maulanas. One maulana even brought a mob to her house to threaten her to give up teaching yoga. Another maulana, Nadeemuddin said on a TV show that in Islam a woman cannot teach men. But where is this written in the Quran? By that logic, no woman can be a Professor or teacher in a co-educational University, College or other institution. No woman in a company can teach business practices to men.
Where in the Quran is yoga forbidden?
In 1985 the Indian Supreme Court gave the progressive humanitarian Shahbano judgment granting maintenance to divorced Muslim wives ( most of whom were financially dependent on their ex-husbands ). The maulanas and other reactionaries in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board raised a hue and cry and started an agitation against the verdict, saying it was against the sharia. Consequently, the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, fearing to lose his Muslim vote bank, got it legislatively annulled by Parliament.
In some videos, I saw some maulanas justifying the barbaric practice of nikah halala, triple talaq, and muta ( temporary ) marriage, which reveals their feudal backward reactionary mindsets. Some maulanas have opposed singing, seeing films, riding motorcycles, etc by Muslim women and have issued fatwas against them.
In India, after Independence, the Muslim vote bank became very important in most places for winning elections. Since the maulanas had a grip over the minds of most Muslims ( who had feudal mindsets, like most Hindus ), our crafty so-called ‘secular’ politicians developed a nexus with most of these maulanas, to get Muslim votes. Hence these ‘secular’ politicians secretly gave various benefits to these maulanas, and in return, the maulanas got them votes of Muslims. This unholy alliance between our crafty ‘secular’ politicians and most maulanas resulted in mutual benefit to both, but it also ensured that most Muslims would remain poor and backward, as the Justice Sachar Committee Report states.
It is time now for Muslims ( particularly the Muslim youth ) to realize this and expose and isolate these reactionary maulanas/muftis who have done so much harm to Muslims. These maulanas are nothing but unIslamic malignant excrescences and warts on the Muslim community, and the greatest obstacle to their progress.
In Turkey, the feudal minded Sultan and Khalifa, hand in glove with the maulanas, kept Turkish people poor and backward, so much so that Turkey became known as ‘ The Sick Man of Europe ‘, and it was kicked around by the European powers. The Sultan even agreed to the partition of Turkey ( like the partition of India in 1947 ) by the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, as demanded by the European powers. The great Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal realized this, and he refused to accept the partition of Turkey.
Consequently, he staged a revolt in 1920 which deposed the Sultan and Khalifa, and then he set about modernizing Turkey and abolished sharia, burqa, and madrasas, which were responsible for the backwardness and poverty of the people. Indian Muslims should follow his example if they wish to improve their lives.
They must get rid of these reactionary maulanas/muftis, and feudal and backward laws and practices like sharia, burqa, madarsas, etc and rapidly modernize.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own]